Despite permanent truce in Swat, reopened schools witness poor attendance

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Mingora, Feb. 23 (ANI): All boys' and some girls' schools reopened in the Swat valley on Monday following a permanent ceasefire between the Pakistan Government and Taliban, but only forty percent students turned up amid security fears. Only 40 per cent of students showed up for school. This is because of the recent (unstable) situation. Another reason is that many families are still frightened and thousands more left the valley because of the fighting," said Ziauddin Yusufzai, the spokesman for the private schools association.

All boys' schools formally reopened on Monday, one week earlier than the scheduled start of term after the long winter holiday, The Dawn reports.

In government-run girls' schools, only the primary section up to the fourth grade opened. But all private girls' schools reopened, Yusufzai said.

"Girls attended classes veiled after militant leader Maulana Fazlullah announced on his illegal radio station that girls could take examinations, but only after covering themselves according to sharia," local residents said.

After bombing 191 schools in Swat, including 122 girls' schools, Taliban had said that girls could go to school only under the practice of total separation from men and boys.

Swat education ministry official Sher Afzal said, "We have sent proposals to the government to rebuild the schools, which will cost around 800 million rupees."

Most private schools in Swat are concentrated in and around the main town Mingora.

Meanwhile, in a bid to counter terrorism in North West frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistani authorities have handed over 30,000 assault rifles among villagers under a plan to raise an elite police force.

NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said the elite force was being set-up to fight growing terror and restore governance in the state.

The elite force plan requires recruitment of 2,500 personnel, and the center would be approached for additional funds, Hoti said. (ANI)

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